tv Majority Leader Mc Connell and Minority Leader Reid on Senate Recess CSPAN July 15, 2016 4:18am-5:05am EDT
marco rubio chairs this subcommittee hearing. >> thank you. good afternoon. book come to order -- this hearing will come to order. the title of this hearing is the westernthe hemisphere, risks and responses. dr. tom frieden, center for disease control and prevention and maureen cope. she is the acting deputy assistant administrator. we thank you all for being here today. we apologize for starting late. the senate gods decided to
schedule a vote right at the time we were supposed to begin. but we appreciate your time and your dedication. i also would like to thank all of those who worked alongside my staff to make this hearing possible. today we face an issue that's already affecting many countries in our hemisphere, including our own. it's not partisan in nature. the growing threat of the zika virus is a full-blown public health crisis in the united states, it is a clear call to action. just look at the statistics. as of july, 65 countries and territories have reported evidence of zika transmission. what's more troubling is four countries are classified as having possible endemic transmission or local vector zika infections in 2016. as much as zika remains a threat on the international stage, it poses a real and timely threat to our country. that means in these countries the disease that has already spread rapidly and made its way into the population. we're seeing this as well in the island of puerto rico and puerto ricans, as you all are well aware, are american stitcitizens
-- are american citizens and puerto rico is an american territory. according to the statistics from the world health organization, the united states is one of 11 countries with evidence of person-to-person transmission of the zika virus. that means our neighbors, our friends, our families are already at risk even without mosquito-born transmission. though that is likely coming as well. as the threat of the virus continues to grow here, i will continue to state the importance of moving quickly in response. i strongly believe that inaction on zika is simply inexcusable and i am optimistic after the facts in the hearing from the experts today, it will reinforce this fact and the fact that something needs to happen quickly. it's taken far too long already. the effects of the zika virus are alarming to say the least. pregnant women, or women who have become pregnant and have contracted the virus and are at risk for having babies with microcephaly. that is a birth defect that causes severe neurological abnormalities, which can include
a small and deformed head. it has an impact on the baby's neurological system and quality of life. those born with microcephaly may experience seizures, hearing and vision loss as well as a number of other horrific symptoms. it is our responsibility to the american people to take action when public health is in jeopardy. although the mainland of the united states might not be word about zika right now, there are 1,133 cases and they were found in 45 out of 50 states. just last week the cdc reported that they are currently monitoring in the united states 320 cases of zika and pregnant women. the cdc director, who joins us here today, called zika a silent epidemic. as of now, many predicted what would happen during the summer if the spread of the virus accelerate. the friday before last, federal health officials confirmed the largest number of new cases in the state of florida with ten new cases. that was a short-lived record. it was broken last weekend when florida confirmed 11 new zika
infections. that time, in six counties, including lake county florida, which had never had a case before. that record was broken again on monday of this week, when 13 new infections were reported. so, you get the idea. the problem is not -- is only going to continue to accelerate. this is not the first time i have spoken on the growing threat of zika. in late january of this year, as i was somewhere outside of florida, i saw a headline in the "new york times" that stopped me in my tracks. it said "report of zika-linked birth defects rise in brazil." health authorities in brazil said wednesday reported cases of conditionly, a rare in which infants are born with heads, had small ahead climbed 7% from the previous tally last week. and it stopped me in my tracks for a number of reasons. first was the staggering number and the breakneck speed with which the disease was spreading
over just the course of a week. it also made me pause because for those of us who live in south florida and travel through miami international airport, we know very well that what happens in brazil impacts us in the united states, especially in florida. a couple of days after that, i reached out to the u.s. customs and border protection to express my concerns and asked what they were doing or could do about this. given miami international airport's standing as the gateway to the americas, with more flights going to and from brazil than any other state. i called for action from my colleagues, urged support for fully funding the president's request for dealing with this virus. i have supported every single zika proposal that has come before the senate, every single one. but nothing has gotten done. the problem is only getting worse. it is our duty to act now wh while we can still get ahead of this disease and before it is to o late.
i believe we have a constitutional responsibility and moral obligation to confront the zika virus. it's my hope that today's hearing will further call attention to the seriousness of the situation and what more we can do in the western hemisphere to help fight it. this challenge we face is emblematic with how connected we are with our neighbors. these global health crises do not respect international borders. the negative impacts of these problems from the economy to political instability can easily impact us here at home. the links between our country, especially florida and other nations of the western hemisphere, are obvious. i already covered brazil. but for example, the first baby born in florida with zika-related microcephaly was a mother who came from haiti. last month, 1000 pregnant women in columbia were reported to have contracted zika. it's already a u.s. health emergency. it's only growing by the day. and the links between our nations make this a hemispheric public health crisis. once again, american ingenuity and innovation in medical sciences must lead the way if
we hope to save lives, including countless unborn children. we must begin to meet the zika virus with a sense of urgency we not seen up until now. listen to the experts around. it's time to enact serious solutions. i am proud to stand as an advocate for any legislation that would provide funding to combat zika as soon as possible. we cannot rest until we've taken action to ensure the safety and health of the american public. thank you. with that, i recognize our ranking member, senator boxer. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman, for this hearing. thank you to our witnesses, our guests. few issues pose as immediate a threat to the health of americans as the zika virus. the virus has caused severe birth defects in thousands of newborns. these defects include brain damage, blindness, it is devastating to mothers, two families, to communities. in some cases, we have seen the premature death of children. rareika virus has caused a
disorder in adults and which the body attacks its own nervous system, causing paralysis. also linkedus is with another autoimmune disorder that resembles multiple sclerosis, which causes a swelling in the brain and spinal cord. we only have to listen to public health experts to get a clear sense of the virus' danger. the world health organization has said that the zika virus is, "spreading explosively" in the and threatens to overwhelm almost every country in the western hemisphere. the center for disease control and prevention said the disease is "scarier than we originally thought." hereika virus is already in the continental united states. over 1,000 people have already contracted the disease either through travel or sexual conduct.
as the disease travels northward from latin america and the caribbean's, up to 30 states are in danger of local outbreaks from mosquitoes carrying the virus. 30 states. this includes california and the chairman's home state of florida. we need to act now. it is a real threat and it is dangerous. here is the great news. the great news is the senate has bipartisan legislation, which is what you have when you have an outbreak like this. it provided the administration with less than what they wanted, but nonetheless, $1.1 billion. when the president requested $1.9 billion, the senators negotiated and the best they could come up with was $1.1 billion, but the compromise would have gone a long way
without having poison pills and ridiculous riders that could endanger the american people included in the legislation. what happened to that wonderful bill that my chairman voted for, that we all voted for? it disappeared down the black hole of partisanship. the republicans in the house had a conference and they did not allow any democrats into that conference. not senator mcculskey, a woman who we revere around here on both sides. not senator murray, who has worked across the aisle on so many issues. no, they left them out. and you know what they came out with? a bill that actually restricts funding for birth control in the united states and in puerto rico. even though they know, they k now, that zika can be transmitted sexually and birth
control should not be controversial and it is part of the first line of defense. there's no room for politics in this. listen, the report also overrides the clean water act. and i know about this because i am the ranking member on the environment and public works committee. that was passed by republicans and democrats, it overrides it. it allows the uncontrolled pesticide spraying. that is near water supplies that we drink out of and our children swim in. pesticides that could poison our people. now, you may say, this is an emergence the. shouldn't we be able to spray. under the clean water act, you can't. -- under the clean water act, you can. you don't even need to get a permit. the clean water act understands
this. it says during an emergency, you don't need to get a permit, go ahead and spray. spray the amount necessary off the approved list and just notify the epa. just notify the epa. but you don't have to get approval. that was not good enough for my friends over there. i completely took away that section of the clean water act. that means there's no more right to know if somebody goes next to your house and sprays some horrible pesticide that causes cancer that is not on the approved list. you have no way of knowing that has happened. and the clean water act is smart. once the emergency is over, they sit down with local agencies and they figure out a way to maintain it. so, here we have a circumstance where the house republicans, without any consultation from anybody, completely of a serrated the clean water act.
so, you might not get the zika, but your kid could get cancer by swimming and water that is latent with pesticides. you can't just say, i am speaking for myself. you can say, i am not going to vote for any bill. because what if the bill does as much harm as it does good? we're legislators. we have to be careful what we do, what we vote for. so, they took out the possibility for nonprofits to do birth control, which is the defensenuteline of against the zika. they completely eviscerated the clean water act, which makes it dangerous for our people. they even put something in there about the confederate flag, which my colleague, senator cain understands -- was explaining to me. he can do a better join job of explaining it, but essentially, it overrode another bill where we said you can't fly the flag at veteran cemeteries.
they did away with it. in the zika bill. so, it's discouraging. and i call on all of us who voted for that bipartisan bill, and it is all of us here as far as i know, bring back that bill. keep out the bad stuff. it is that enough they cut funding for ebola. that is horrible. but these things are added, if thewill, insults to american people, thinking we are doing something good when we are doing some bad things as well. i just wanted to say quickly in closing, i am so disgusted with the situation, as we all are, everyone of us. we don't know how we got here, we just got here. so, i am hoping we can do something different in the future, mr. chairman. and i have written legislation that would create a $3 billion publi public emergency
health fund, kind of like fema. hhsould allow the cdc and to use those funds to address global health threats. and it would allow them to go in. they would notify congress. we could overrule them if we didn't like it. but we wouldn't put politics in the middle of this thing. i am, you can see, a little worked up. and i apologize. maybe i'm a little too worked up. but i share my friend, the chairman's view on the zika thing. we are sitting on this and we have to get off sitting on it and do something about it. thank you. >> thank you, senator boxer. we'll begin with our testimony with miss garber, secretary garber. >> thank you, chairman rubio, ranking member boxer and members of the subcommittee. we really appreciate the inortunity to testify today
the state department's response to the zika outbreak. with regard to the current situation, 40 countries and territories in the western hemisphere are experiencing active mosquito-born transmission of the zika virus. several countries and territories in africa and asia are also experiencing outbreaks for the first time. since this epidemic began, science and medical experts, my colleague, dr. frieden foremost amongst them, have discovered the truly heartwrenching impacts that this virus can have on its victims and particularly on developing fetuses. as you mentioned, mr. chairman, this is a silent outbreak. we do not see hospitals full of ill patients, hear ambulance sirens across the street. across the hemisphere, pregnant women and their partners are living in fear. fear that their child may be born with severe developmental defects. in addition to the tremendous emotional and health toll on families, the demographic and economic consequences are still emerging.
the cost of lifetime support for children affected, as well as adults experiencing guillen-barre syndrome or other effects could tax national health systems. areas with high poverty levels and dense population are most vulnerable, but least able to manage the consequences. the u.s. government is committed to helping prevent, detect and respond to the zika virus, both at home and abroad. countries around the world look to the united states as a leader in global health security and we are working with countries in the americas and beyond to provide support. many countries in the region have governments and a strong public health systems capable of mounting a response to the zika virus. countries such as brazil, panama and colombia, host respected research institutions which with we're partnering to develop counter measures. panama health organization and the organization of american states, the u.s. government and our neighbors are leveraging our collective expertise to share
best practices and identify innovative tools for vector control and disease diagnosis. in countries such as haiti, el salvador, guatemala, honduras, we are responding to the zika virus threat. our embassies are working closely with these governments and the world health organization to find gaps and priority. you was voluntary contributions and other support to our original and multilateral partners enable us to amplify the impact of our efforts. in addition, private/public sector partners can help respond in areas where the u.s. government has limited access or resources. and today, at the state department, we hosted an excellent private/public partnership event on just this topic. the state department is committed to protecting the safety and security of all u.s. citizens.
it also means working with other governments to attack the zika virus outbreak at its source, by cooperating with our countries on response and planning, we help build a stronger global response to protect u.s. citizens and the international community while contributing to international stability. if we can control an infectious outbreak quickly, either at home or abroad, we help to limit its impact on u.s. citizens. we're working with other governments to increase to cut off the transmission cycle, pushing out across multiple platforms, information needed for our citizens and nationals to make informed travel decisions and help to protect them from contracting zika while overseas on the basis of cdc guidance. this is particularly true in the case of the olympics in brazil, where we expect over 100,000 u.s. citizens to attend. brazil is working very hard to protect the health and safety of all athletes and spectators attending the olympics and paralympics, including through its own public awareness
campaigns and vector control efforts. zika, like ebola before it, has highlighted how connected we are as a global community. we have a window of opportunity to address these urgent needs now before we are put at further risk by working with our international partners and reaffirming leadership in the region. as secretary kerry said at the global health security agenda summit in 2014, in an interconnected world, we invest in global health, not simply as a matter of charity or as a matter of moral responsibility, but we do it as a matter of national security. thank you for your consideration. and i welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you. dr. frieden? >> thank you very much, chairman rubio, ranking member boxer, members of the committee. with your permission, i'll submit a written statement for the record. the cdc works 24/7 to protect americans from threats. we use the best of modern silenc science. zika is both unprecedentednd